I never thought I’d miss Cody Banks. But the dull and lifeless Alex Rider brought back surprisingly fond thoughts of the better-than mediocre Agent Cody Banks and the terrific first two Spy Kids. Even the lousy third one was better than this dreary, too-violent, talent-wasting mess, based on the successful series of James Bond-for-kids books. It’s too violent for younger kids and too dull for older kids.
Alex Pettyfer plays Alex Rider, an English orphan who lives with his never-there uncle (brief appearance by a dashing Ewan McGregor) and a daffy but devoted American housekeeper/nanny (Alicia Silverstone) with a penchant for exotic cuisine. When his uncle is killed in the line of duty, Alex discovers that he was a spy. And all his uncle taught him about languages, martial arts, and extreme sports was his way of training him to be one as well. Sophie Okonedo and Bill Nighy are the spy chiefs who recruit Alex to pretend to be the winner of a computer competition, so he can find out what bad guy Boris, I mean Darius (Mickey Rourke) and his henchwoman Natasha, I mean Nadia (Missy Pyle) are up to.
There’s a lot of chasing around and some cool stunts, but it has a flat, draggy feel to it, some creepy moments of oddly insensitive interactions, and no sense of genuine enthusiasm or adventure.
Parents should know that this movie has a great deal of action-style violence. This means that there is no blood, but it is still disturbing; characters are killed and Alex uses guns.
Families who see this movie should talk about what qualities and education are required to be a spy.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the much better Agent Cody Banks and Spy Kids.